Headbutt storm as Italy thrash Angola at Basketball World Cup

Foshan (China) (AFP) –


An Angola player aimed a vicious headbutt at an opponent as Italy thrashed the Africans 92-61 to all but reach round two of the Basketball World Cup on Monday.

Italy look in ominous form, hammering the Philippines 108-62 in their opener before handing out more punishment to the Angolans in the southern Chinese city of Foshan.

But there was a flashpoint involving all the players from both teams with seconds left of the match after Leonel Paulo and Alessandro Gentile clashed.

The 26-year-old Gentile shoved Paulo and the latter responded in kind, before appearing to make contact with the Italian's nose with a headbutt.

Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs racked up 17 points and Kentucky-born Jeff Brooks also starred for Italy with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.

Also in Group D, Serbia -- who are some people's favourites to snatch the title held by the United States -- play the Philippines later on Monday.

Serbia and Italy will face up on Wednesday in what promises to be a blockbuster for group supremacy.

"Serbia are the best team in the tournament but we are not scared about that," said the 33-year-old guard Belinelli.

Argentina also made it two wins out of two as they defeated Nigeria -- touted by some as possible surprise packages before the World Cup -- 94-81 in Group B.